Friday, March 24

IIT-Kharagpur develops cheap and fast test kit, eyes industry tie-up for mass rollout

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The Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur on Saturday claimed it had developed a compact portable Covid diagnostic kit that could cut down test costs to Rs 400 and throw up results in less than an hour. It has applied for patent and will approach the Indian Council of Medical Research so that it can validate its results on human saliva samples.

The kit has been tested on 500 “synthetic samples” and has yielded a 100% success rate. IIT director VKTewari said the institute would also approach the central and state governments to frame policy guidelines for its use and help identify a collaborator who could develop this kit for mass production in the shortest possible time.

Researchers indicated that IIT-Kharagpur was ready for tie-ups and commercialisation of the product and “a corporate or start-up approach for licensing and commercial scale of production”. “IIT-Kharagpur researchers will hand-hold collaborators for the mass roll-out. We want to make this available to the public quickly. We will need help from the central and state governments and necessary ICMR approvals,” Tewari said.

Mechanical Engineering professor Suman Chakraborty led the team that developed the kit along with Bio-Sciences professor Arindam Mondal. “RT-PCR tests, the gold standard for testing, use complex thermal and optical systems to identify the coronavirus. They also need an elaborate laboratory set-up and logistics and training. All these add to the cost and the time needed for tests. But this portable kit uses an automated pre-programmable temperature control unit for genomic analysis and we have used a reusable paper-based device to detect the virus,” Chakraborty said, “This cuts down costs significantly. This also has a smartphone application for dissemination of test results without manual interpretation.”

“Three samples can be concurrently tested in an hour and the results can come in an hour. The kit can be used by anyone with basic training. It can also be used in rural areas as it does not require an elaborate laboratory set-up,” Chakraborty said. “This kit can be programmed to test other viral infections, including influenza, as well,” Mondal explained.

IIT-Kharagpur, in a separate statement, said the results had been validated by following all established laboratory controls and against benchmarked results.

Source: Times of India

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